The Sellwood Bridge: A New Milestone

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Construction to replace the bridge begins; Multnomah County wins a $17 million federal grant to help

The Sellwood Bridge replacement project has officially begun.

On Friday, Dec. 16, more than 150 citizens joined Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, Commissioners Deborah Kafoury, Judy Shiprack and Diane McKeel, Portland Mayor Sam Adams and representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader at the celebration. The groundbreaking took place at Sellwood Riverfront Park in Southeast Portland.

Speakers at the event included state Rep. Carolyn Tomei, state Sen. Diane Rosenbaum and Jason Tell, manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“Today we celebrate the start of something that our community has waited nearly 50 years for,” Commissioner Kafoury said. “The new steel deck and arch bridge will be a graceful addition to Portland’s world-class collection of bridges. We’re going to have a bridge that represents our community values and our community ethic.”

Read more about the Sellwood Bridge

VIDEO: Students from Llewellyn Elementary School among the featured speakers at the Sellwood Bridge groundbreaking.

VIDEO: Animation of how the new Sellwood Bridge will be constructed.

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Q&A with André Baugh

What are the diversity oversight program goals for the Sellwood Bridge Project?

The first is that 20 percent of the contracted dollars will go to businesses owned by minorities and women or emerging small businesses. The second goal the county has on this project is workforce development. As part of its workforce development, it requires that 20 percent of the workforce will be apprentices on contracts $100,000 and above. It’s a training mechanism for people who want to get into the construction industry. The third is asking, “What does that workforce look like?”

Read the rest of the Q&A on the Sellwood project

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Sellwood Bridge by the Numbers

2: Current sufficiency rating on a scale of 0 to 100 for the bridge, the busiest two-lane span in Oregon.

3: Number of feet the hillside on Oregon Highway 43 has shifted over time toward the Sellwood Bridge, weakening the span’s west approach and creating cracks in its west end supports.

10:Number of tons that vehicles crossing the current bridge are limited to for safety reasons. That restriction has prevented fire trucks and nearly 1,300 daily freight and bus trips from crossing the span.

500: Number of feet from the bridge for the no-wake zone in the Willamette. The zone is to ensure the safety of river users and construction workers. Boaters should reduce speed in the zone and maintain a safe distance from other boats and construction areas.

1,705: Number of job-years that construction and design of the project are expected to create. The project has goals for 20 percent of the construction budget to go to firms that are classified as disadvantaged minority, women or emerging small businesses.

1925: Year the current bridge opened.

2012: Year that construction of the new bridge will begin (July 2012). Work to build the detour bridge begins this month.

2015: Year project will be completed.

Read the full article By the Numbers

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Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Chair: "Replacing this bridge is the largest transportation project Multnomah County has taken on in decades. We have done so much work to solve one of the biggest transportation problems in our region. Now we are at the point where we can focus our energies on putting hundreds of people in our community back to work as we build the bridge

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Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Commissioner: "I've always known that we had to do something about the Sellwood Bridge, given its deteriorating condition. But when I heard my children singing 'London Bridge is Falling Down' and they were using Sellwood instead of London, the urgency really hit home. This partnership of leaders has made it possible for future generations to cross this bridge with a feeling of safety, security and pride."

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden: "You can't have a first class economy with a minor league transportation system. This project will not only make Oregonians safer, it will make our transportation system more efficient."

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U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley: "This project will put construction workers to work now so that thousands of Oregonians have an easier and safer trip to work when it's done. It's the kind of innovative transportation investment that will allow Oregon to show how we create economic opportunities while making our communities easier to get around."

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U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer: "I am extremely pleased that the Sellwood Bridge is receiving a TIGER grant, and that our regional efforts have paid off. We appreciate and thank the Obama Administration for its commitment."

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U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader: "The new Sellwood Bridge will provide a critical transportation link between Multnomah and Clackamas counties, while ensuring the safety of the thousands of drivers that cross the bridge daily. These are the kind of infrastructure investments we should be making right now."